The 30th day of the legislative session is always one that requires a lot of patience and strong coffee.
"Crossover Day" is a significant deadline for the Georgia General Assembly because it is the last day for legislation to pass the chamber in which it was introduced in order for it to move to the other chamber for consideration.
Sitting in the stands Saturday nearly 130 miles south of Dawsonville, there was no sign in sight of a sluggish economy, nearly $4 a gallon gas prices or high unemployment rates.
Everywhere you looked you saw someone you knew, decked out in maroon and gold, cheering on our Lady Tigers basketball team.
Last Thursday marked the 30th legislative day of the 2013 session.
Known as "Crossover Day," this critical point in the session marks the last chance for most bills to pass the legislative chamber from where they originated.
Let's face it. Judges can be pretty scary folks to We the Unwashed. About the only time we ever see them is when we are called for jury duty or when - Heaven forbid - we are a plaintiff or defendant or a witness, wishing we could be anywhere but in the courtroom.
But I will let you in on a little secret: Get them out of those black robes and away from their intimidating surroundings and these folks are fun to be around.
In reference to the proposed Calhoun Creek Reservoir, Mayor James Grogan stated in news reports: "It's a manmade reservoir already, an old rock quarry..."
It would be interesting to know what he bases this on. There is no evidence that there has ever been a quarry on Calhoun Creek or Peachtree Creek, the tributary which flows into it and would also be a part of the reservoir.
The Georgia House of Representatives has passed an ethics reform bill and has sent it on its way to the state Senate for its consideration and action.
But don't get out the confetti just yet. What one body sees as true ethics reform, the other sees as a desultory effort to curb the power and influence of those lizard-loafered lobbyists skulking the halls of the Gold Dome. We the Unwashed? We are caught in the middle, as usual.
This past week, the Senate passed House Bill 266, which would update Georgia's IRS code and clarify measures from 2012's tax reform overhaul by a vote of 41-7.
The bill was amended from its original version to reconcile any unintended financial repercussions from last year's comprehensive tax reform package.
Now that we're almost three quarters through session, the House is considering more legislation than at any other time this session. We spend longer days at the Capitol, and vote on more legislation.
This past week the House voted on several major pieces of legislation that will have a positive impact on our state.
Although I was just recently named chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am not new to the discussion on Georgia's wide range of transportation needs.
As a former DOT board member and a former county commissioner, I am well-versed in the transportation needs of more rural areas of the state, and as a former member of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Overview Committee (MARTOC) I have also had the chance to review some of the common obstacles faced by a metropolitan mass transit system.
It is often difficult to foresee the end results of an action when it is initiated, although we are constantly taking actions that have far-reaching outcomes. That's exactly what life is all about.
Sometimes the results are serendipitous (look that one up), sometimes calamitous or run-of-the-mill or even unobserved. Generally, I think, we must look back and analyze situations in order to realize the cause/effect steps.
Last Wednesday marked the 20th legislative day, which puts us half way through the 2013 legislative session. The day was extremely special for me, because this was the day that House Bill 122 passed the House of Representatives.
My recent observations on the lack of respect given public school teachers in Georgia engendered a lot of responses but none better than this story sent to me by my friend, David Egan, co-director of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island and a former educator himself.
I commend it to those members of the General Assembly who seem to spend more time and effort these days trying to starve public schools to death financially and promoting private school scholarship schemes with no public accountability and with all sorts of opportunity for abuse, rather than giving public school teachers the tools ...
I often write adventures from the past, but today I am writing about an event that is occurring this very moment - the Rome Confluence.
Last December, after a long day of meetings, I could think of nothing more important than going home and hugging my kids tightly.
The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy was everywhere that day - TV, newspaper, social media and general conversation. When a parent sends a child to school or when a teacher goes to work, it is assumed both will return home safe and sound at the end of the day.
Experts tell us that we need a vision of a desired outcome in order to achieve it.
I've been thinking about some of the visions I have heard recently.
The scene: I-16 near Dublin. Waaangh! Reep! Reep! Reep!
March 3 marked the 30th legislative day of the 2014 session. Known as "Crossover Day," the critical point in the session is the last chance for bills to pass the legislative chamber from which they originated.
Some of you might remember a popular song from the '80s called "The Final Countdown."
Last week consisted of an important few days, as it was the last week for bills to pass out of committees, since "Crossover Day" was on Monday.
This week, the Georgia General Assembly hit an important deadline: Crossover Day.
As predicted in this space a few weeks ago, there is compromise legislation pending in the General Assembly regarding the Common Core curriculum, the controversial program which seeks to establish consistent education standards across the country.
I had the pleasure of knowing Ken Newell for the past eight years. Ken was a well-liked and respected man, and had a real love for the people of Dawson County.
The Cherokee County Republican Party has a blurb on its website about Rep. Sam Moore, who won the 22nd District house seat earlier this month following the death of veteran lawmaker Calvin Hill. Among other tidbits about Moore are his hobbies, including this: "Playing jokes ... watch out. You have been warned."
The snow and ice melted from Winter Storm Pax, and we returned to Capitol Hill on Feb. 17. This was the sixth week of the 2014 legislative session and an important one. This past week, we passed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, as well as many other significant pieces of legislation.
State projects are often hindered by two things: Personnel needs and a lack of funding. We do not have an unlimited bank account or line of credit, and every taxpayer dollar counts. This means we often look to creative methods to bring in the employees and technology needed to address Georgia's biggest needs.
Severe winter weather in Georgia is a rare occurrence. Although a few snowflakes do fall during the winter months, the snowflakes only stick around long enough to take a few pictures before melting away the next day in 50 degree weather.
Monday, February 10, 2014, marked the 20th day and half-way point of the 2014 legislative session. With only 20 days left to pass laws this year, we quickly got to work, voting on legislation and reviewing bills in committee.